Runelvys Hernandez, making his first start since August of 2003, pitched a gem this afternoon. Seven innings, five hits and one run add up to his first win of the season. He looked great, hitting his spots and keeping the Tigers off balance all day. It was the same Runelvys that led the Royals to their strong April of 2003.
As poorly as the Royals played in the opener, the inverse is true today. One of those days where everything went right:
• Tony Graffanino is probably a tad bit annoyed a rookie was eyeing the job he thought was rightfully his in spring training. So the first opportunity he gets, he makes his point getting on base five times, going 4-4 and running the bases like a man possessed. He played like the sparkplug we were supposed to be getting from the White Sox last year. A pleasure to watch today.
• With the table set, Mike Sweeney came through with a pair of hits and RBIs. He was also at the center of an argument in the first inning when a passed ball allowed the first Royals run to score and Graffanino to move from first to third. Pudge Rodriguez argued the ball deflected off Sweeney’s foot. Replays were, as they say “inconclusive.” But the way the ball bounced (it was tailing inside to the right-handed batting Sweeney then kicked away to the first base side in foul territory) it sure looked like it deflected off Sweeney’s instep. Nice job today from the much-maligned captain.
• The Royals broke the game open in the fourth inning, scoring three times with TWO outs to push the score to 5-1. It featured Mark Teahen’s first career hit (a triple) and four consecutive hits to drive Detroit’s starter Mike Maroth from the game. Good teams break games open like that. Keep in mind, I’m far from convinced this is even a good team, but innings like today’s fourth make me think this team is headed in the right direction.
It’s a complete turnaround from Monday’s disaster. Zach Greinke will take the mound tomorrow. Could two wins in the first three games be in the cards?